Lapid Calls for Public Security Minister Ohana’s Ouster

Opposition leader Yair Lapid at an anti-government demonstration in Tel Aviv. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Opposition leader and chairman of Yesh Atid, Yair Lapid, continued his attacks on the Netanyahu-led coalition on Monday, as he called for the firing of Public Security Minister Amir Ohana for allegedly anti-democratic comments.

In a leaked conversation with Yerushalayim district police commander Doron Yadid, Ohana questioned the legitimacy of the anti-government demonstrations outside Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu‏‏’s residence in the capital.

Lapid quoted Ohana in a party meeting on Monday as saying: “I don’t understand why we don’t ban this. I want to challenge the ruling of the court [referring to a High Court ruling upholding their right to hold protests there].

“I don’t know how to explain to the public why we ban prayer and cultural performances and don’t ban this [the protests]. They are taking over the sidewalks with sleeping bags, mattresses and podiums. Don’t allow this,” adding that such “disarray” could not continue.

Lapid said that “democratic protests in democratic countries are chaotic,” and that “a Minister of Public security who doesn’t understand that is in the wrong job.

“Netanyahu needs to fire Amir Ohana, today,” he said.

Lapid further accused Netanyahu of “using” Ohana “to try and silence the protesters because he is afraid. And he’s right to be afraid. It has been years since Israel saw protests like this and they will only get stronger. People are fighting for their home, fighting for their livelihood.”

Lapid himself was the target of criticism on Monday, from Yerushalayim and Heritage Minister Rabbi Rafi Peretz, who recalled Lapid’s response to the evacuation of Gush Katif 15 years ago.

Answering a no-confidence motion authored by Lapid’s party, Rabbi Peretz said in the Knesset plenum: “I want to remind you, people of Yesh Atid, how a ‘government that silences the Knesset, harms democracy, and tramples the rights of its citizens’ looks, as you wrote in the wording of your no-confidence motion.

“In 2005, when the Israeli government expelled me, my family, my students, and the ten thousand residents of Gush Katif from their homes…

“When we cried, you rejoiced at the expulsion from Gush Katif. You portrayed us as enemies of the people, as those who would refuse an order, as those who would act violently – and none of that happened. We behaved like model citizens after you gave us a punch in the stomach. It’s raw. It hurts. My brothers are still crying out for the poverty and neglect by the State. When my family and students and I were homeless, Yair Lapid called it ‘victory of Israeliness’ in his column published the next day. To this day I’ve heard no apology from him. Maybe for him the expulsion of Jews from their land was a victory,” Rabbi Peretz was quoted by Arutz Sheva as saying.

“You provide us a painful reminder of what will happen if you’re in power and if the Right isn’t strong enough. You tore the army into two, you tore Israeli society in two – just like you try to do today; you steamrolled everything in your path, and spared no move on the road to deportation. Too fast did you forget that for baseless hatred we fell, and the truth is, with baseless love will we be rebuilt,” Rabbi Peretz concluded.

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